Murder of a Good Man

Listen to a narrated excerpt of Murder of a Good Man

Have you ever worked anywhere that was haunted? That’s what happens to Nora Alexander when she starts work in an old hotel. Not to worry though, the ghost wears a bow tie and loves to dance! This week I am doing one of my books, Murder of a Good Man, so let’s head to Texas.

About the Book

When Nora Alexander drives into Piney Woods, Texas, to fulfill her dying mother’s last wish, she has no idea what awaits her. First she is run off the road, then the sealed letter she delivers turns out to be a scathing rebuke to the town’s most beloved citizen and favored candidate for Piney Woods Pioneer: Adam Brockwell. Next thing you know, Adam has been murdered in a nasty knife attack. Suspicion instantly falls on Nora, one of the last people to see him alive. After all, everyone in Piney Woods loved him. Or did they? Turns out Nora’s mother had a complicated past she never shared with her daughter. Told not to leave town by Tuck the flirty sheriff, Nora finds a job with Tuck’s Aunt Marty trying to get the rundown Tunie Hotel back in the black. The old hotel was Piney Woods’ heart and soul in its heyday as an oil boomtown. Now the secrets it harbors may be the key to getting Nora off the hook. She’s going to need to solve the mystery quickly to avoid arrest, or worse: becoming the killer’s next victim.
Book 1 in the Piney Woods Mystery series.


Blinking to keep her tears at bay, Nora reached into her pocket for a tissue. Just as she brought it up to her damp cheek, a red pickup, apparently tired of her snail’s pace, swerved around to pass her. Without considering the passing driver, Nora hit the gas pedal to get back up to speed with traffic. When the red truck re-entered the lane, he nearly ran into her, causing Nora to veer off the country road. She slammed on the brakes, taking deep breaths as her heart thumped in her chest. With shaking hands, she moved farther over to the side of the road as her heart rate returned to normal. The jolt had opened the cut on her hand from that morning’s moving of the boxes and furniture from her mother’s place to the storage unit. The bandage had dislodged itself, and she used her cotton shirt to stop the flow of blood until she could open the first-aid kit on the seat of the car. Thank goodness she was wearing a T-shirt underneath.
Just as she got everything fixed up, a man in a white pickup with a gun rack in the back slowed and rolled down his window. “You okay there, missy?”
Nora straightened up and smiled, not wanting to accept help from a strange man. “Fine, just fine.”
“Okay then. I got a little something for you.” Nora wasn’t sure she wanted to see what that was. He extended his arm out of the cab window and slapped a bumper sticker into her hand. The bright red letters spelled out, BUBBY FOR PINEY WOODS PIONEER.
“Uh, thank you.”
“Name’s Bubby Tidwell and I can see you are about to enter the fair city of Piney Woods, Texas. While you’re there, I’d appreciate it if you cast your vote for me, as the Piney Woods Pioneer. I have personally saved fourteen of our citizens, three cats, and a hamster in my days as a firefighter. They only choose people who have contributed to improving our little community, and even though you don’t know me, I’d sure appreciate your support. You drive safe now.” He waved and headed on down the road.
Nora put the bumper sticker in the passenger seat and stared in the rearview mirror. She had hopped into the car determined to fulfill her mother’s last wish. Now that she was getting close to her destination, she realized she must look pretty rough. She rearranged her hair to create a side braid à la Disney princess while arranging silky strands of auburn hair to frame her face. Pulling a tube of concealer out of her bag, she did her best to repair her makeup. After a few minutes of fussing, she hoped she looked presentable.
She had to do this thing. She had to know. Her mother left her instructions on delivering the letter. As Nora neared Piney Woods, Texas, two giant eyes bored into her from a lighted billboard with the words VOTE FOR BUBBY in glitter letters at the bottom. PINEY WOODS’ FINEST CITIZEN was written under the face of the round-cheeked man with the Cheshire Cat smile. A hundred feet down the road was another billboard with BROCKWELL INDUSTRIES—PINEY WOODS’ TRUE PIONEER NEEDS YOUR VOTE. Brockwell was the name she was looking for, so she knew she was getting close. As she entered town, the election signs multiplied. VOTE FOR BUBBY was on a park bench, VOTE FOR BROCKWELL was on a lamppost, but it was going too far when a blue Porta-Potty sported signs from both sides. Nora guessed they wanted the people of Piney Woods to think about who they were voting for while using the blue plastic necessity. Nothing like a captive audience.
Nora drove down a main street that looked as if it belonged to an earlier time. The two-story brick buildings held lovely little stores, a restaurant, and a coffee shop. The oak and elm trees on either side of the street were so large, they nearly touched branches in some areas, framing the picturesque town with their deep-red and gold leaves. At the end of the main road in Piney Woods was the largest house on the block. The two-story brick structure looked more like the public library or a courthouse than someone’s home. Nora double-checked to make sure there wasn’t a book drop by the front door. No, someone actually lived there. The enormous house had a wraparound porch and windows taller than the height of the average man. What would it be like to sit on the porch, listening to the crickets, on a warm summer’s evening? Nora examined the numbers on the mailbox. This was the address her mother had printed in careful letters on the envelope. Not only was the intended recipient of this letter mysterious, but he was also rich. After driving all the way from south Louisiana to Texas, she was here. All she had to do was park in the cobblestone driveway, ring the doorbell, deliver the letter, gas up, and go home. So why was she nervous? Why hadn’t her mother mailed the letter before her death? What was the big secret about Adam Brockwell? Since her father’s death, Nora had never even seen her mother go on a single date.
If Kay Alexander had a boyfriend, it would have to be someone like a table-calculating insurance adjuster figuring the chances of them ever having a good time. Her mother had a way with figures right up until her death. Nora had been told how much they depended on her bookkeeping skills at the home improvement center where she had worked for so many years.
Nora’s mother had an answer for everything, and most of the time that meant Nora needed to stay inside the little bubble she had created for the two of them. When Nora rebelled, as most young people eventually do, she hadn’t just strayed from the course. She’d found herself a whole new ocean. Kay Alexander’s cancer had steadily worsened.
Once a healthy, vibrant fifty-one-year-old woman, the woman in the bed next to Nora had appeared gaunt and tired. Her red hair, what was left of it, was covered in a brightly colored wrap. It was the brightest thing in the room, as if pink and yellow flowers could dispel the pall of her mother’s illness. It was as if she was holding onto the last threads of color, her attire the one pleasure cancer couldn’t drain out of her. The doctors had promised that the pain and discomfort from the chemo would pay off in the end. Nothing had worked. So here they were, mother and daughter, holding on for time.
Other than her father, Kay Alexander had never trusted men. She had been so strange before she died. Pulling an envelope out of her bedside table, she pressed it in Nora’s hands. “I need you to deliver this to the man at this address.”
Nora examined the letter. The address was in Texas. “Why? Can’t you mail it?”
“No, it’s important this man sees you.”
“Again, why?”
“Let’s just say he’s about to be honored with something and I … want to put in my two cents.”
“How do you know this about a man I’ve never heard of who lives in another state?”
Kay put her hand to her chest and coughed. “I … I … just know. That’s all.”
Her mother’s words still echoed in her ears as her phone GPS informed her she had reached her destination. Whoever this guy was and why he was important to her mother, Nora would never know until the letter was opened. She came close to the driveway and started to pull in, but then checked her watch. It was nearly seven. Maybe it would be better to deliver the letter the next day when she could be sure to catch Mr. Brockwell.

Find Murder of a Good Man at these online retailers.


Barnes and Noble


About the Author

Besides doing the Books to the Ceiling podcast, I am the author of the Swinging Sixties Mystery Series as well as the Piney Woods and Pecan Bayou Mystery Series. I teach writing workshops with one of my favorite writers, Terry Korth Fischer, author of the Rory Naysmith Mysteries. I am a graduate of University of Northern Colorado and a former high and middle school English teacher. I live in South Texas with my husband and son.


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